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State of the Union: Biden promises to stop Russia and hit inflation

In his first State of the Union Address Tuesday night, President Joe Biden addressed a worried nation and an anxious world.

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State of the Union: Biden promises to stop Russia and hit inflation

He pledged to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine,tame the rising U.S. inflation, and address the dangerous, but still fading, coronavirus.

Biden stated that he and all other members of Congress are united in the belief that freedom will always triumph. He asked the crowd to salute the Ukrainians and stand as he began his speech. They cheered and stood.

After a long year of bitter animosity between the Republican opposition and Biden's Democratic Coalition, it was a remarkable show of unity.

Biden's speech of 62 minutes, which was divided between concern at home and war abroad -- reflected the same balance he faces now in his presidency. He will need to marshal allies against Russia's aggression, while addressing inflation, COVID-19 fatigue, and sagging approval ratings going into the midterm elections.

Biden will travel to Wisconsin Wednesday to continue the momentum built from his speech. Biden's vice president and Cabinet members will spread the word throughout the country.

Biden again heads to an old bridge that is being repaired. It has become a symbol of his administration and tangible evidence of the nation he is working to update. It's a wrought iron bridge connecting Duluth (Minnesota) and Superior (Wisconsin), across the St. Louis Bay.

The massive infrastructure plan, which was signed into law last January, will fund the replacement of the bridge. It is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that proves -- Biden states -- that Republicans and Democrats can still collaborate.

Biden spoke Tuesday, highlighting the courage of Ukrainian defenders as well as a revitalized Western alliance that has helped to rearm Ukraine's military and cripple Russia through sanctions. Although he acknowledged the costs to America's economy, he warned that Russia's President Vladimir Putin's aggression would not be contained to Ukraine without consequences.

Biden stated that "Throughout our history, we have learned this lesson: when dictators don't pay a price to their aggression, they cause even more chaos." They keep moving. The costs and threats to America, and the rest of the world, keep increasing."

Biden was speaking as Russian forces escalated their attacks on Ukraine. They had bombarded the central square in Ukraine's second-biggest cities and Kyiv’s main TV tower. At least five people were killed. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial also was damaged.

Biden stated that the U.S. will follow Canada and the European Union by banning Russian aircraft from its airspace as a retaliation to the invasion of Ukraine. Biden also stated that the Justice Department would launch a task force to pursue Russian oligarchs. He called them "corrupt leaders who have bilked millions of dollars off this brutal regime."

He said that "We are coming to your ill-begotten gain," and pledged that the U.S., European allies would pursue their yachts, luxury apartments, and private jets.

Biden switched from the problems abroad to the domestic troubles in his speech. Prices for American families were rising even before the Russian invasion, which sent energy prices skyrocketing. The COVID-19 pandemic continues today to harm families and the economy.

Biden presented plans to combat inflation through reinvesting American manufacturing capacity, speeding supply chain processes and reducing workers' burdens with childcare and eldercare.

Biden stated that too many families are having trouble keeping up with the bills. They are losing out on the potential gains that inflation is causing. I get it. It is why I make it my top priority to keep prices under control."

Biden, in one sign of progress on the pandemic, entered the House chamber unassisted. This is a result of declining coronavirus cases and new federal guidance that aims to encourage the public to return to pre-pandemic activities. There was also evidence of tension: Security concerns following last year's rebellion had led to the Capitol being re-fenced.

The White House aimed to set aside disquiet at the home and danger abroad and used Tuesday night's speech to highlight the improving coronavirus outlook and rebrand Biden’s domestic policy priorities. It also showed a path to lower cost for families struggling with high inflation. The Russian invasion of Ukraine last week and the nuclear saber-rattling of Putin changed things.

One Cabinet secretary, in this instance Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was kept in a secure place during the address. She is ready to take control of the government in case of an emergency.

The State of the Union address is usually addressed to a specific audience. But this year, the entire world was there. Interview with CNN and Reuters: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President, urged Biden not to give a weak and unhelpful message regarding Russia's invasion. As a sign of unity, Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to America joined Jill Biden in the House Gallery for the speech.

In rare discordance, Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado shouted that Biden was responsible for the deaths of 13 servicemen during last August's chaotic U.S. withdrawal.

"You put them into. "You put them in." Boebert shouted as Biden spoke of his son Beau, who was a veteran who had died from brain cancer after serving near toxic military burn pits. These pits were used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. Biden is pushing legislation to assist veterans who have suffered exposure or other injuries.

Although the crisis in Eastern Europe may have helped to calm partisan tensions in Washington it did not erase the political discord and cultural division that are casting doubt on Biden’s ability to deliver.

According to an AP-NORC poll, more people disliked than liked Biden's handling of his job in February (55% to 44%). This is a decrease from the 60% positive rating he received last July.

Biden used his remarks to emphasize the progress made over a year ago, with most of the U.S. population vaccinated now and millions more working -- but also acknowledged the fact that the job is far from done, which was a sign of American discontent.

Biden stated, "I have come here to report on the status of the union." "And my report says that the state of the union has strengthened because you, the American people are strong. Today we are stronger than we were one year ago. We will be even stronger in a year.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds was chosen to deliver the Republican response. She said that Biden's speech felt more like the 1980s, with rising crime, rising inflation and a resurgent Russia.

"Even before taking office, the president stated that he wanted America to be respected again around the world and that he wanted us to come together. She said that he has failed on both of these fronts.

Biden's speech was used to push the country "back to more normal routines" following the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

He declared, "It's now that Americans can get back to work and help fill our great cities again." He stated that people would be able order another round free of charge from the government, and that his administration was launching "test to treat" to offer antiviral medications at no cost to anyone who tests positive for the virus.

Biden's speech to Congress last January saw the introduction of a huge social spending package. This year, he largely repackaged previous proposals to find feasible measures that he hopes will win bipartisan support in a bitterly divided Congress.

President Obama also highlighted investments in everything, from internet broadband access and bridge construction, from November's $1.2 Trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as an example government reaching consensus and delivering positive change for the nation.

In his pitch to voters, he emphasized how proposals such as extending the child credit and reducing child care costs could provide relief for families when prices rise. His climate change proposals, he said, would reduce costs for low- and middle-income families as well as create new jobs.

Biden called for lower health care costs. He presented his plan to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Biden also called for action on voting rights. This has not won GOP support. As gun violence continues to rise, Biden retorted to his call to ban assault weapons. This was a request he hadn’t made in months. He demanded that the police be provided with the training and resources they need to protect communities.

He led Congress in a bipartisan salute to Stephen Breyer, retiring Supreme Court Justice. He also highlighted the biography of federal judge Ketanji Jackson, his nomination be the first Black woman on that high court.

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